Kate McKinnon's Tribute to Ellen DeGeneres at the 2020 Golden Globes Was Beyond Inspiring

The only thing that made coming out as gay "less scary was seeing Ellen on TV," the Saturday Night Live star said in her touching speech

By Natalie Finn Jan 06, 2020 2:16 AMTags
Watch: 2020 Golden Globes: By the Numbers

Well, damn, Kate McKinnon. We didn't expect to cry so early on in the evening.

The Saturday Night Live star was tasked with paying tribute to Carol Burnett Award recipient Ellen DeGeneres at the 2020 Golden Globes, and McKinnon did that and then some.

In a perfect world—or maybe even this world—her speech, both personal and adulatory, funny and so, so touching, will melt many hearts and hopefully open more than a few minds.

"Carol Burnett has given us decades of laughter, tears, and a new sense of what's possible, so I would like to read a list of things that tonight's recipient Ellen DeGeneres has personally given me," McKinnon said.

See the Winners of the 2020 Golden Globes

"Some of these are spiritual and some of them are pieces of clothing I got to keep after doing impressions of her on her talk show," she quipped.


Paul Drinkwater/NBC

"A road map for a way to be funny that is grounded in an expression of joy. Two pairs of Stan Smith sneakers. (That's one of the clothes ones.) A desire to bring everyone together by laughing about the things that we have in common. My best collared shirts. A sense of self."

She added, mock-casually, "I have to explain that one more. In 1997, when Ellen's sitcom was at the height of its popularity, I was in my mother's basement lifting weights in front of the mirror and thinking, Am I gay? And I was. And I still am."

That was met with hearty applause and an almost startled look from DeGeneres, whom it may not have occurred to that she might start crying before she took the stage.

Paul Drinkwater/NBC

"But that's a very scary thing to suddenly know about yourself," McKinnon continued. "It's sort of like doing 23 and Me and discovering that you have alien DNA. And the only thing that made it less scary was seeing Ellen on TV. She risked her entire life and her entire career in order to tell the truth and she suffered greatly for it. Of course attitudes change, but only because brave people like Ellen jump into the fire to make them change.

"And if I hadn't seen her on TV, I would have thought, I could never be on TV, they don't let LGBTQ people on TV—and more than that, I would have gone on thinking that I was an alien and that I maybe didn't even have a right to be here. So thank you, Ellen, for giving me a shot. A shot at a good life. And thank you also for the sweater with the pictures of a baby goat on it."

Now that's something we'd like to see, too. Right after we watch this speech again.